"I don't want them to think about me, or the time on my computer, or how much time is left, or when lunch is. That's just a distraction, and including it in the slides would be counterproductive."
I totally get that you don't want your audience to focus on the clock, and they should be paying attention to what you're saying. That's a perfectly valid reason to not show the clock. There are, however, many cases where it would be perfectly cromulent to have the clock there. I say this, because the vast majority of presentations I've given or sat in on, the clock was somehow involved.
- When I was in the military, we practiced "hitting our mark" for briefings over and over again. But the real life scenario is that the col. or general always has somewhere else to be at the bottom or top of the hour. That's the governing factor- if he comes in late, or you don't plan for the appropriate Q&A time, you don't get to encroach past the end of your time. This is duplicated in just about every meeting I've ever given in civilian life as well- the top or bottom of the hour indicates when we stop or start, and the presenter will always ask the audience anyway if that needs to deviated from. The clock is the governing authority over everyone's time and/or the meeting room that was scheduled, it should be viewable.
- Regarding distracting people by having the clock on the screen, sure, but it's certainly less distracting than having half your audience look at their watch because they have another meeting to get to in 3 minutes. At least they can know what time it is discreetly without having to look at their watch. (lets face it, not every meeting is drop dead engaging, yes, they should be- but lets deal with the realities of the situation). Besides, most people don't have watches anymore anyway.
- I haven't used any recent iteration of PowerPoint (work is using Office 2003), but from what I've seen, Office 2007 only addresses half of the problem. It allows you to see the clock in the presenter view, but as I've already noted before- often the presenter isn't the "top dog" with control of the meeting. In most of my experiences, presentations are to superiors who are always dealing with other projects of equal or greater importance to what the presenter is talking about, they are the ones with control over when/where the stop/starts are.
- There are a ton of timer based functions and additions, macros, scripts, whatever for PowerPoint and similar products for timing the presenter. But don't think I've ever seen anyone ever use anything like that ( I've worked in technology, health care, banking, and the military, all predominantly used PowerPoint in it's easiest/roughest form). None of these functions really matter in my experience- it's always about what time is on the clock.
Does this make sense? What do you think? Distracting? Needed? Or do presentation tools already address this? (again, I'm on Office 2003, I'm not sure if 2007 does this)